Laurel Brunner of the Verdigris Project writes that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) affect the lives of all of us and our intertwined supply chains because they are targets for improvement.
The 17 UNSDGs range from eliminating poverty to preserving life below water and they probably seem completely irrelevant to the average printing company owner. But these goals should not be brushed off as someone else’s gig. All manner of bodies from brands to municipalities are striving somehow in the general direction of the UNSDGs. So however vague and remote they may seem to many businesses, we should all be getting behind them.
At a recent UN sponsored conference on the goals and climate change mitigation, the great and the good came together to bemoan the fact that both climate change mitigation and progress towards fulfilling the UNSDGs are off track, way off track and this is not good. Collectively, meeting participants acknowledged this but they also reached the conclusion that there is indeed a synergy between the two. Why this wasn’t obvious in the first place is a trifle worrying. And what does this synergy have to do with the printing industry?
Well not a lot at first glance. But take a vigorous scratch at the surface and it becomes obvious that positive outcomes, environmental and commercial, can be had with a little bit of proactive engagement. Achieving those wins in the context of business progress will take concerted effort, starting with a green agenda for the business. That can be as simple as an environmental policy and of course it helps that sustainable business practices make commercial sense. Improving process automation and taking steps to cut waste, workflow and colour management are all obvious sources for improved efficiencies and reduced emissions.
Unfortunately as an industry we lack any leadership to encourage better environmental practices and there are relatively few signs that collective action for climate change mitigation is happening or even supported. This is sad and a poor reflection of the efforts or rather nonefforts our industry associations are trying to make to lead the way forward.
Only with engagement with national and local governments can we expect to see improvements in our industry’s environmental credentials and get the help our sector needs to meet the expectations of the customers it serves. Until then, the best we can expect is a slow accidental creep towards the UNSDGs, if indeed we can even identify a direction of travel. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that decisive action now could achieve development co-benefits worth $43 trillion by 2070. 2070 is a long way off, and understandably most of us will prioritise shorter term concerns. Nonetheless, we should keep in mind that the future starts with the now.
This article was produced by the Verdigris Project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. Verdigris is supported by: FESPA (www.fespa.com), Fujifilm (www.fujifilm.com/sustainability/), HP (www.hp.com), Kodak (www.Kodak.com/go/sustainability), Practical Publishing (www.practicalpublishing.co.za), Miraclon (https://miraclon.com), Unity Publishing (http://unity-publishing.co.uk) and Xeikon (www.xeikon.com).
THE VERDIGRIS PROJECT